An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
The Christian Revolution
"Today 4.2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee home and/or country. Around the world, millions are forced to flee environmental crises and conflicts caused by resource depletion and climate change.
We bring their stories to the empire that decrees their plight. We want to remember all the refugees we never see and to remind us all of the Pentagon's power to create and maintain the suffering caused by U.S. warmaking.
American Historian Howard Zinn, in reflecting on his experience as a bombardier, and his research on the wars the US has waged, has come to these conclusions about war:
One : The means of waging war (demolition bombs, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, nuclear weapons, napalm) have become so horrendous in their effects on human beings that no political end (however laudable), the existence of no enemy (however vicious), can justify war." - Jonah House
This is where most Americans will stop. Their deepest faith is in the effectiveness of cluster bombs and fifty-caliber machine guns to stop evil which is incarnated in human beings who fail to accept the natural order of American dominance.
But force is always a confession of failure. "Jesus resisted evil with an intensity which revealed the uselessness and irrelevance of violence, and this resistance of love constitutes the Christian revolution." - James W. Douglass. The weakness of violence lies in its impotence to convince the opponent to accept the truth of one's position. "To force the opponent to yield to our own truth is only a confession of its inherent impotence to convince him in mind and heart. Or rather, it is a confession of our failure to employ the force of truth, which force alone can effect the conversion we are in reality seeking through the blind desperation of violence." - James W. Douglass.
Ultimately, America seeks an acquiescent population that will actively accept it's economic and political model. But reality balks: "Over the last four years, and in polls from a wide range of sources, Iraqis have been especially unequivocal on one point: that the US military occupation of their country produces more violence than it prevents. A May 2004 poll sponsored by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority found that roughly 80 percent of Iraqis had "no confidence" in US-led forces to improve security and that most "would feel safer if Coalition forces left immediately...A year later, in August 2005, a secret poll conducted for the British Defense Ministry found that "less than one per cent [sic] of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security." Polls conducted over the past two years have continued to find strong majorities of Iraqis concurring in this view." - Kevin Young, "The US Occupation and Popular Opinion in Iraq", Jan. 5, 2008.
Lacking compelling reasons for those we wish to control to accept our dominance, we use white phosphorous to make our points. In doing this, we violate not only "their" nature, but our own as well: "Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law - the strength of the spirit." - Gandhi.
"Two : The horrors of the means are certain, the achievement of the ends always uncertain.
Three : When you bomb a country ruled by a tyrant, you kill the victims of the tyrant.
Four : War poisons the soul of everyone who engages in it, so that the most ordinary of people become capable of terrible acts." - Jonah House
War itself is spiritual poison - it cleanses us of truth and the spiritual virtues that allow us to see truth. "Violence is as much a sin against truth as are deceit and trickery." - James W. Douglass
"Five : Since the ratio of civilian deaths to military deaths in war has risen sharply with each subsequent war of the past century (10% civilian deaths in World War I, 50% in World War II, 70% in Vietnam, 80-90% in Afghanistan and Iraq) and since a significant percentage of these civilians are children, then war is inevitably a war against children.
Six : We cannot claim that there is a moral distinction between a government which bombs and kills innocent people and a terrorist organization which does the same. The argument is made that deaths in the first case are accidental, while in the second case they are deliberate. However, it does not matter that the pilot dropping the bombs does not 'intend' to kill innocent people -- that he does so is inevitable, for it is the nature of bombing to be indiscriminate. Even if the bombing equipment is so sophisticated that the pilot can target a house, a vehicle, there is never certainty about who is in the house or who is in the vehicle.
Seven : War and the bombing that accompanies war are the ultimate terrorism, for governments can command means of destruction on a far greater scale than any terrorist group." - Jonah House
These considerations lead us to conclude that if we care about life, justice, children, we must, in defiance of whatever we are told by those in authority, pledge ourselves to oppose all wars."
"To take the point a level deeper than the lie of propaganda, one can affirm that it is the truth of man himself which is violated in war, that truth which has the power to achieve justice without violence." - James W. Douglass.
Give me the courage, Lord, to accept non-violence as the foundation of my personal, social, and political commitments. Let the seed of love grow within me until it encompasses the whole world.
For more information go to:
Jonah House: www.jonahhouse.org